By Keith Thompson
In this article I seek to survey early Islamic source material pertaining to Muhammad’s demon possession and then compare those details with what the Bible says about demon possession. The Bible has much to say about being influenced by evil spirits, demons or Satan and it is the most relevant text in this regard with which to compare Muhammad’s condition as found in the Quran, Hadith and other Islamic sources. After much study I have come to realize that Muhammad, the false prophet of Islam, perfectly fits the Biblical description of someone under demonic oppression, demon possession or the influence of Satan.
The first relevant piece of data comes from the earliest biographical work on Muhammad’s life from Ibn Ishaq who was an 8th century Muslim historian. In his work Sīratu Rasūlu l-Lāh (The Life of Muhammad) we are told about the reaction of Muhammad’s foster parents and those around them after Muhammad had an encounter with two beings. These beings threw him to the ground resulting in him being found livid which probably refers to his pale zombie-like complexion after the event. We are confronted with these comments from Muhammad’s foster parents and those around them:
“Some months after our return he and his brother were with our lambs behind the tents when his brother came running and said to us, ‘Two men clothed in white have seized that Qurayshi brother of mine and THROWN HIM DOWN and opened up his belly, and are stirring him up.’ We ran towards him and found him standing up with a livid face. We took hold of him and asked him what was the matter. He said, ‘Two men with white raiment came and THREW ME DOWN and opened up my belly and searched therein for I know not what,’ so we took him back to our tent. His father said to me, ‘I am afraid that this child has had a stroke, so take him back to his family before the result appears.’ So we picked him up and took him to his mother who asked why we had brought him when I had been anxious for his welfare and desirous of keeping him with me. I said to her, ‘God has let my son live so far and I have done my duty. I am afraid that ill will befall him, so I have brought him back to you as you wished.’ She asked me what happened and gave me no peace until I told her. When she asked if I feared a DEMON POSSESSED HIM, I replied THAT I DID. She answered that no demon had any power over her son who had a great future before him, and then she told me how when she was pregnant with him a light went out from her which illumined the castles of Busra and Syria …” (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume, Oxford, [Oxford University Press, 1995pp. 71-72; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Notice two things: people around Muhammad believed that a demon was possessing him. This is valuable early testimony which may be explained by their previous knowledge of demonic possession and its connection to what was happening to Muhammad. And secondly, we are told that the beings physically threw Muhammad down to the ground.
Now, in the Holy Scriptures one of the main things the demons do is physically throw people to the ground. For example in Luke 9:42 a man brings his demon possessed boy to Jesus to be healed and we read:
"While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father" (Luke 9:42)
Nowhere do real angels or heavenly beings possess people and physically throw them down to the ground in the Scripture. In the account of the possessed boy in Mark we read about how the demon, “convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.” (Mark 9:20). Interestingly there is Islamic material where Muhammad seems to have suffered from such demonic seizure-like spells and other similar convulsive behaviour. For example, we have multiple attestations to Muhammad foaming from the mouth:
"The authoritative Hadith (Tradition) relate that Muhammad used to faint whenever revelation came to him. It is claimed he used to act like a drunkard (See Al-Sirah al-Nabawiya, by Ibn Hisham; chapter on how revelation came). In his boo, Al-Qur’an al-Majid, Darwaza claims that Muhammad was taken out of this world. Abu Huraira says that ‘whenever Muhammad received revelation, he was overwhelmed by trembling.’ Another account says: ‘He became distressed, foaming at the mouth and closing his eyes. At times he snorted like a young camel’" (Ahmad b. Hanbal I, 34, 464, VI, 163)." (The True Guidance (Part Four): An Introduction to Quranic Studies [Light of Life, P.O. Box, A-9503, Villach, Austria], p. 9; bold emphasis ours)
Here is some more data in this regard:
"In tradition (رواية) it is stated that he said, "I fear lest I should become a magician, lest one should proclaim me a follower of the Jinn"; and again: "I fear lest there should be madness" (or demoniac possession جنون) "in me". After an accession of shivering and shutting his eyes, there used to come over him what resembled a swoon, his face would foam, and he would roar like a young camel: Abu Hurairah says: "As for the Apostle of God, when inspiration descended on him, no one could raise his glance to him until the inspiration came to an end." In Tradition it is stated that "He was troubled thereat, and his face would foam, and he closed his eyes, and perchance roared like the roaring of the young camel.' 'Umar ibnu'l Khattab says: "When inspiration descended on the Apostle of God, there used to be heard near his face as it were the buzzing 1 of bees." (C.G. Pfander, The Mizan-Ul-Haqq (Balance of Truth), pp. 345-346; online edition; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Muhammad would sweat profusely (Sahih Al-Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 1, Number 2). He would also turn red and breath heavily (Sahih Al-Bukhari: Volume 6, Book 61, Number 508). Therefore, the similarity between the demon-possessed boy and Muhammad is quite striking. In fact there were other times when Muhammad was stricken with such fear that he was moved to fall to the ground similar to how the boy in Mark 9 was cast to the ground:
“Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: that he heard the Prophet saying, "The Divine Inspiration was delayed for a short period but suddenly, as I was walking. I heard a voice in the sky, and when I looked up towards the sky, to my surprise, I saw the angel who had come to me in the Hira Cave, and he was sitting on a chair in between the sky and the earth. I was so frightened by him that I fell on the ground and came to my family and said (to them), 'Cover me! (with a blanket), cover me!' Then Allah sent the Revelation: "O, You wrapped up (In a blanket)! (Arise and warn! And your Lord magnify and keep pure your garments, And desert the idols." (74.1-5)” (Sahih Al-Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 54, Number 461)
With respect to Muhammad’s first encounter with the hostile spirit being, who Muhammad didn’t know the identity of, a Christian monk named Waraqa bin Naufal was sought out for his opinion about what had just transpired:
"Waraqa was dumbfounded at this, and said, ‘If Gabriel has actually placed his feet upon the earth, he has done so for the best of people thereupon. And he never came down for anyone except a prophet. For he is the companion of all the prophets and messengers, the one whom God sends down to them. I believe what you tell me of him. Send for ‘Abd Allah’s son, so that I may question him, hear what he says and talk to him. I am afraid it may be someone other than Gabriel, for certain devils imitate him and by so doing can mislead and corrupt some men. This can result in a man becoming confused and even crazy whereas before he had been of sound mind.’" (Ibn Kathir, The Life of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya), Volume I, translated by professor Trevor Le Gassick, reviewed by Dr. Ahmed Fareed [Garnet Publishing Limited, 8 Southern Court, south Street Reading RG1 4QS, UK; The Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization, 1998], pp. 296-297; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Waraqa was correct about devils or Satan appearing as an angel of light to deceive people much like what happened many years later to the false prophet of Mormonism Joseph Smith when he was approached by a being who claimed to be the angel Moroni. The Biblical reference of warning can be found in 2 Corinthians 11:14:
“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
This therefore adds to the case for Muhammad’s demonic possession in that extremely early witnesses believed Muhammad to be in contact with demonic entities who pose as righteous angels.
It is also relevant to note that in pre-Islamic Arabian belief as well as post-Islamic Arabian belief it was thought that a poet was influenced by a satanic demon to be able to produce good poetry. The 9th century Islamic historian and exegete al-Tabari notes the following:
"The pre-Islamic Arabs believed in the demon of poetry, and they thought that a great poet was directly inspired by demons." al-Tabari, Isma'il, Qurban Husayn, The last years of the Prophet, [SUNY Press], p. 167 note 1151
The Quran itself mentions some examples of people who suspected that Muhammad was under such demonic inspiration:
“Yet they turn away from him and say: ‘Tutored (by others), a man possessed!’" - Surah 44:14 (Yusuf Ali)
“And say: ‘What! shall we give up our gods for the sake of a Poet possessed?’" -Surah 37:36 (Yusuf Ali)
The belief that poets were helped or influenced by demons in Muhammad’s time is also brought out by the work of Alfred Felix Landon Beeston Arabic literature to the End of the Umayyad Period:
"The effort required of the poet to achieve all this at once is supreme; hence the belief in the Daemon of Poetry, or inspiration, as we would now term it. It was thought that the great bards of the Jahiliyya were directly inspired by demons. Hassan, before he became a Muslim, boasted that he was helped by a companion of the children of Satan: “One moment I speak, another he does”. According to al-Asha, his demon was called Jihinnam or Jahannam (Hell). Suwayd b. Abi Kahil describes his companion as “[devilish] quick”. (Alfred Felix Landon Beeston, Arabic literature to the End of the Umayyad Period, Volume 1 of Cambridge history of Arabic literature, [Cambridge University Press, 1983], pp. 40-41)
It is interesting and very telling, then, when we look in the Muslim literature – namely al-Tabari and Ibn Ishaq – and find that Muhammad believed he was one of these poets under the inspiration of the demons; so much so that he wanted to commit suicide:
"…I recited it, and then he desisted and departed I woke up, and it was as though these words had been written on my heart. There was no one of God’s creation more hateful to me than a POET or a madman; I could not bear to look at either of them. I said to myself, "Your humble servant (meaning himself) is either a POET or a madman, but Quraysh shall never say this of me. I shall take myself to a mountain crag, hurl myself down from it, kill myself, and find relief in that way." (The History of al-Tabari: Muhammad at Mecca, translated and annotated by W. Montgomery Watt and M.V. McDonald [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1988], Volume VI, p. 71; bold emphasis ours)
You find a similar account in Guillaume’s translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Life of Muhammad:
“Now none of God’s creatures was more hateful to me than an [ecstatic] poet or a man possessed: I could not even look at them. I thought, “Woe is me poet or possessed…” (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, trans. By Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, Oxford, [Oxford University Press, 1995], pp. 106)
Now, in the true Holy Scriptures, namely the Bible, there is not one instance of a true Prophet or Apostle being concerned that they were demon-possessed or controlled by Satan in going forth with their divine mission. However, what we do find is that people who were actually possessed acknowledged their possession. In other words the true people of God never thought about questioning if they were demonically possessed. Only truly possessed people would speak and act in like manner. For example in Matthew 8 after Jesus had just calmed the sea and wind we read:
"And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, "What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?" (Matthew 8:28-29)
Hence, demon possessed people speak and act in accordance with the fact that they are possessed. Prophets and Apostles do not. Muhammad does not fall into the classification of Prophets and Apostles since he believed he was possessed and acted accordingly. He falls into the category of possessed people. Therefore, as opposed to coming away with the belief that humanity needs to embrace Muhammad’s teaching, I think the truth of the matter is that it was Muhammad who was in need of an exorcism.
Notice also in Matthew 8:28 that one of the signs of their demon possession was that they were extremely fierce even though Jesus was exhorting everyone to holiness. In my article ‘Would Jesus Approve of Muhammad? Part 1: Mercy’ I documented just how fierce Muhammad was despite being commanded to be merciful according to Jesus’ New Covenant teachings. Examples would be Muhammad allowing his followers to murder those around them who merely spoke negatively of him. Muhammad would then assert that the lives of those murdered for speaking negatively about him were worthless. Muhammad would have people tortured and beheaded so that he could steal their treasure. Muhammad would cut off the hands and feet of people and burn out their eyes with hot iron then leaving them to die slowly in the desert. Finally, he would order anyone killed who left Islam. This is extremely fierce and therefore Muhammad fits the description of a demon-possessed man.
Now, in the Hebrew Scriptures after Saul had disobeyed God his kingdom was taken from him. God’s Spirit was taken from him. He was then possessed by a demon as a punishment, eventually killing himself after losing the battle of Gilboa in 1 Samuel 31:4. Thus, he ultimately was shown to be a false prophet and non-elect. Now, with respect to Saul’s demonic possession, 1 Samuel 16:14-15 states:
“Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him. And Saul's servants said to him, "Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you” (1 Samuel 16:14-15)
The 1st century Jewish historian Josephus adds some insight into the tormenting effects that this demonic possession had on Saul. In his work Antiquities of the Jews he states:
“And when Saul came to him, he was disordered in mind (19) and under the vehement agitation of a spirit; and, putting off his garments, (20) he fell down, and lay on the ground all that day and night, in the presence of Samuel and David.” (Antiquities of the Jews - Book VI, trans. William Whiston, , Ch. 11 paragraph 5) Ant 6.19a
Muhammad suffered from all of these things. When Muhammad had his first encounter with the being, who he came to erroneously believe to be Gabriel, we read in Sahih al-Bukhari and in al-Tabari that Muhammad was vehemently agitated or choked by this harmful spirit which is similar to what happened to Saul:
“The Prophet added, "The angel caught me (forcefully) AND PRESSED ME SO HARD that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again AND PRESSED ME A SECOND TIME till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?’ Thereupon he caught me for the third time AND PRESSED ME, and then released me and said, 'Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists) has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous." (96.1, 96.2, 96.3) Then Allah’s Apostle returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija bint Khuwailid and said, "Cover me! Cover me!" They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, "I fear that something may happen to me." Khadija replied, "Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your Kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 1, Number 3)
"Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Malik b. Abi al-Shawarib – ‘Abd al-Wahid b. Ziyad – Sulayman al-Shaybani – ‘Abd Allah b. Shaddad: Gabriel came to Muhammad and said, "O Muhammad recite!" He said, "I cannot recite." GABRIEL WAS VIOLENT TOWARDS HIM and then said again, "O Muhammad recite!" He said, "I cannot recite," AND GABRIEL AGAIN WAS VIOLENT TOWARDS HIM… (The History of al-Tabari: Muhammad at Mecca, Volume VI, p. 69; capital emphasis ours)
It is also germane to note that according to the Islamic sources Muhammad had lost his clothes and fell to the ground unconscious with this eyes upwards similar to what Saul experienced when he would roll on the ground:
“Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: When the Ka'ba was rebuilt, the Prophet and 'Abbas went to carry stones. 'Abbas said to the Prophet "(Take off and) put your waist sheet over your neck so that the stones may not hurt you." (But as soon as he took off his waist sheet) he fell unconscious on the ground with both his eyes towards the sky. When he came to his senses, he said, "My waist sheet! My waist sheet!" Then he tied his waist sheet (round his waist).” (Sahih Al-Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 58, Number 170)
And lastly, like Saul, Muhammad was disordered in mind in that Muhammad was often under the satanic influence of bewitchment or witchcraft whereby he would imagine that he had done graphic things that he had not actually done. We read about this fact in Sahih al-Buhkari the most authentic hadith collection:
"Narrated Aisha: Magic was worked on Allah's Apostle so that he used to think that he had sexual relations with his wives while he actually had not…” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 660)
“Narrated 'Aisha: A man called Labid bin al-A'sam from the tribe of Bani Zaraiq worked magic on Allah's Apostle till Allah's Apostle started imagining that he had done a thing that he had not really done. One day or one night he was with us, he invoked Allah and invoked for a long period…” (Sahih Al-Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 71, Number 658)
“Narrated 'Aisha: that Allah's Apostle was affected by magic, so much that he used to think that he had done something which in fact, he did not do, and he invoked his Lord (for a remedy). Then (one day) he said, "O 'Aisha! Do you know that Allah has advised me as to the problem I consulted Him about?" 'Aisha said, "O Allah's Apostle! What's that?" He said, "Two men came to me and one of them sat at my head and the other at my feet, and one of them asked his companion, 'What is wrong with this man?' The latter replied, 'He is under the effect of magic.’” (Sahih Al-Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 75, Number 400)
“Narrated 'Aisha: Magic was worked on Allah's Apostle so that he began to imagine that he had done something although he had not. One day while he was with me, he invoked Allah and invoked for a long period and then said, "O 'Aisha! Do you know that Allah has instructed me regarding the matter I asked Him about?" I asked, "What is that, O Allah's Apostle?" He said, "Two men came to me; one of them sat near my head and the other sat near my feet. One of them asked his companion, 'What is the disease of this man?' The other replied, 'He is under the effect of magic.'” (Sahih Al-Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 71, Number 661)
“Narrated 'Aisha: Magic was worked on the Prophet so that he began to fancy that he was doing a thing which he was not actually doing. One day he invoked (Allah) for a long period and then said, "I feel that Allah has inspired me as how to cure myself. Two persons came to me (in my dream) and sat, one by my head and the other by my feet. One of them asked the other, "What is the ailment of this man?" The other replied, 'He has been bewitched" The first asked, 'Who has bewitched him?'” (Sahih Al-Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 54, Number 490)
Commenting on this kind of data the Muslim apologist Bassam Zawadi has admitted that, “… these are the symptoms of one who usually gets possessed by Satan …” Although Zawadi tries to prove Muhammad was not demon-possessed, he did in fact admit that all of these symptoms are common with those who are demonically possessed.
With respect to the kind of demonic witchcraft or magic which Muhammad was under, I find it very interesting that, in contrast, the mighty Apostle Paul was able to stop and silence a magician named Elymas with the power of Christ. Elymas used to do the same type of magic and witchcraft. Muhammad was not able to be protected from magic let alone stop the magician from working magic on him, unlike the Apostle Paul:
“But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.’ Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand” (Acts 13:8-11)
Now, in 1 Kings 22 we read about a lying spirit enticing the false prophets of king Ahab who told him to go to battle with the king of Aram. By being deceived by the lying spirit, king Ahab’s false prophets convinced him that he would win the battle with king Aram when in all actuality Ahab would be injured and then die losing the battle. Hence, there are lying spirits who speak to false prophets about victory in wars when the outcome will actually be a loss. This can cause men to actually think God is speaking to them so they will go to war and be victorious not realizing that in reality it is a lying spirit tricking them – a lying spirit who knows they will lose the battle.
This situation with king Ahab losing the war after being deceived that he would win by an evil spirit closely parallels what happened to Muhammad in the battle of Uhud. In S. 3:150-151 of the Quran Muhammad was sent a prophecy of war victory from a lying spirit telling him that he will win the battle of Uhod with the Meccan pagans. The lying spirit told Muhammad he would be victorious since it was said that Allah was and would be the protector or helper of the Muslims, we read:
“Nay, God is your protector, and He is the best of helpers. Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with God, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers!” (S. 3:150-151, Yusuf Ali)
Muhammad was convinced by the Quranic revelation from this spirit that Allah would protect the Muslims in the upcoming battle because Allah was their protector/helper, that the Muslims would cast terror into the hearts of the pagans, and that their abode would be hell which assumes they would all die losing the battle and be separated from God. The lying spirit who revealed the Quran to Muhammad deceived him to believe this would be a clear victory for the Muslims resulting in the eternal destruction in hell for the pagans. Muhammad’s cousin Ibn Abbas notes that 3:150-151 are prophecies of a victory in the battle of Uhod:
“He preserves you and will make you triumphant against them … Allah then mentioned the defeat of the unbelievers on the Day of Uhud…” (Tafsir Ibn Abbas, on Surah 3: 150-151)
However, like king Ahab, Muhammad was led astray by this lying spirit and did not win the battle of Uhod sending the Meccan pagans to hell. Nor did Allah protect the Muslims in this battle but they suffered enormous human loss. Moreover, Muhammad was severely injured in that war due to stone missiles tearing open his forehead and mouth. Ibn Kathir’s commentary concedes that the battle was lost when commenting on Surah 3:
“As-Suddi said, "When the disbelievers attacked Muslim lines during the battle of Uhud and defeated them, some Muslims ran away to Al-Madinah …” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, on Sura 3:153)
Similarly the Islamic scholar and exegete Dr. Abdullah Saeed concedes:
“…the battle of Uhud, when a potential victory was turned to a grave defeat, resulting in the death of seventy Muslim men who left behind orphans, widows, and aged parents in need of financial support and assistance.” (Abdullah Saeed, Islamic Banking and Interest: a Study of the Prohibition of Riba and its Contemporary Interpretation, Volume 2 of Studies in Islamic law and Society, [BRILL, 1996 ], p. 22)
Hence, one can see how this situation with Muhammad closely parallels the lying spirit who told king Ahab’s prophets in 1 Kings 22 that he would win his battle. To save face and explain away the fact that they lost the battle and that Allah did not protect the Muslims, Muhammad, or this lying spirit, then came up with the excuse that they lost the battle because the Muslims didn’t follow Muhammad’s war plans or orders correctly and also because they coveted war booty. Therefore, Muhammad said that the war defeat was their punishment (see S. 3:152).
In conclusion I think a strong case has been made demonstrating that according to the Biblical description of demon possession or satanic inspiration, Muhammad was clearly under such influences. Therefore, I would exhort the Muslim readers to reject Muhammad and embrace the truth of Christianity instead. If by faith you trust in what Jesus did for you, in that he took the wrath you deserve with his willing sacrifice on the cross that satisfied the Father, you can be saved. I exhort the Muslims to flee from Muhammad, repent of sin and trust in the Lord Jesus’ work on the cross. Muhammad was not a prophet whose teachings should be taken seriously. Muhammad was demonically possessed in need of a saviour.
Christ has Risen; He is Lord
Appendix: Addressing some Possible Objections
With respect to Muhammad being thrown to the ground and brutalized by these spirit beings, many Christian apologists have noted that this kind of thing is foreign to the Bible. Such things were never done to Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Jeremiah or anyone. Nowhere does a godly angel throw a prophet to the ground violently brutalizing him. However, the Muslims have attempted to demonstrate that something similar happened to the beloved and blessed Apostle Paul in his conversion story on the road to Damascus. Here are the accounts:
"Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" 5And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." 7The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus" (Acts 9:3-8)
6"As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' 8And I answered, 'Who are you, Lord?' And he said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.' 9Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10And I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do'" (Acts 22:6-10)
12"In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' 15And I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles--to whom I am sending you 18to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me'" (Acts 26:12-18)
Notice, unlike Muhammad and the demon-possessed boy in Luke 9:42, Paul was not physically forced to the ground by beings who threw him. That’s not what the texts say. Because of the radiance of this light that was brighter than the sun Paul went to the ground being temporarily blinded. Nowhere does the text assert that he was thrown to the ground by spirit beings. Hence, this is something entirely unrelated to what happened with Muhammad and the demon-possessed boy. It is simply eisegesis to assert that beings threw Paul when there is no evidence of such a thing in the text. Moreover, falling to the ground at the hands of beings, or due to fear, or due to losing clothing was not a repeated thing in Paul’s life like it was in Muhammad’s life.
It is also important to note that nowhere did anyone accuse Paul of being possessed because of this incident as Muhammad and the boy in Luke 9:42 were accused. There is no evidence anyone thought of such a thing. In fact, right from onset, after the event, just the opposite was stated. We have attestation from credible Christian witnesses like Ananias who was told by Jesus himself to confirm to Paul that he had indeed seen the Lord and was to be an instrument of God to the Gentiles. We also have the Apostles themselves giving Paul their right hand of fellowship after the event confirming that Paul’s experience was of God:
"10Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." 11And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." 13But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." 15But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." 17So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus WHO APPEARED TO YOU ON THE ROAD by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized" (Acts 9:10-18)
"and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised" (Galatians 2:9)
Therefore, because there is no real parallel in the actual stories when examined closely, with respect to being thrown down physically by beings, and because no one accused Paul of experiencing demon possession, and because we have early credible sources affirming that Paul’s experience was from God right from the onset, it is clear that Paul’s experience is not synonymous with Muhammad’s.
Now, another objection that may arise is with respect to Muhammad’s battle of Uhud being similar to king Ahab’s battle in 1 Kings 22 where I contend that both were told by an evil spirit that they would be victorious but ended up losing. The Muslims may object and assert that in Judges 20:14-48 God told the Israelites to battle with the Benjaminites three times when it didn’t go so well for the Israelites the first two times.
"14Then the people of Benjamin came together out of the cities to Gibeah to go out to battle against the people of Israel. 15And the people of Benjamin mustered out of their cities on that day 26,000 men who drew the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah, who mustered 700 chosen men. 16Among all these were 700 chosen men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. 17And the men of Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered 400,000 men who drew the sword; all these were men of war. 18The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, "Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?" And the LORD said, "Judah shall go up first." 19Then the people of Israel rose in the morning and encamped against Gibeah. 20And the men of Israel went out to fight against Benjamin, and the men of Israel drew up the battle line against them at Gibeah. 21The people of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and destroyed on that day 22,000 men of the Israelites. 22But the people, the men of Israel, took courage, and again formed the battle line in the same place where they had formed it on the first day. 23And the people of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until the evening. And they inquired of the LORD, "Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?" And the LORD said, "Go up against them." 24So the people of Israel came near against the people of Benjamin the second day. 25And Benjamin went against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed 18,000 men of the people of Israel. All these were men who drew the sword. 26Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept. They sat there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. 27And the people of Israel inquired of the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, "Shall we go out once more to battle against our brothers, the people of Benjamin, or shall we cease?" And the LORD said, "Go up, for tomorrow I will give them into your hand." 29So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah. 30And the people of Israel went up against the people of Benjamin on the third day and set themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times. 31And the people of Benjamin went out against the people and were drawn away from the city. And as at other times they began to strike and kill some of the people in the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah, and in the open country, about thirty men of Israel. 32And the people of Benjamin said, "They are routed before us, as at the first." But the people of Israel said, "Let us flee and draw them away from the city to the highways." 33And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place and set themselves in array at Baal-tamar, and the men of Israel who were in ambush rushed out of their place from Maareh-geba. 34And there came against Gibeah 10,000 chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was hard, but the Benjaminites did not know that disaster was close upon them. 35And the LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel, and the people of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day. All these were men who drew the sword. 36So the people of Benjamin saw that they were defeated. The men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin, because they trusted the men in ambush whom they had set against Gibeah. 37Then the men in ambush hurried and rushed against Gibeah; the men in ambush moved out and struck all the city with the edge of the sword. 38Now the appointed signal between the men of Israel and the men in the main ambush was that when they made a great cloud of smoke rise up out of the city 39the men of Israel should turn in battle. Now Benjamin had begun to strike and kill about thirty men of Israel. They said, "Surely they are defeated before us, as in the first battle." 40But when the signal began to rise out of the city in a column of smoke, the Benjaminites looked behind them, and behold, the whole of the city went up in smoke to heaven. 41Then the men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were dismayed, for they saw that disaster was close upon them. 42Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel in the direction of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them. And those who came out of the cities were destroying them in their midst. 43Surrounding the Benjaminites, they pursued them and trod them down from Nohah as far as opposite Gibeah on the east. 44Eighteen thousand men of Benjamin fell, all of them men of valor. 45And they turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon. Five thousand men of them were cut down in the highways. And they were pursued hard to Gidom, and 2,000 men of them were struck down. 46So all who fell that day of Benjamin were 25,000 men who drew the sword, all of them men of valor. 47But 600 men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon and remained at the rock of Rimmon four months. 48And the men of Israel turned back against the people of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, the city, men and beasts and all that they found. And all the towns that they found they set on fire" (Judges 20:14-48)
The clear and obvious reason as to why this story is not analogous with the material concerning king Ahab in 1 Kings 22 and Muhammad’s battle of Uhud in Surah 3 is because here in Judges 20 the Israelites were not promised victory from God the first two times – the times where they lost. In vv. 18 and 23 they merely inquired to God and God told them “Judah shall go up first,” and secondly, “go up against them.” That was all God said to the Israelites before they lost the first two battles. God didn’t promise victory here. God did not assure them that they would in fact win because He was their protector and helper who will cast terror in the Benjaminites’ hearts with their abode then being hell after these first two battles unlike what Surah 3:15-151 promised to Muhammad. In fact, it wasn’t until v. 28 of Judges 20 when God explicitly promised the Israelites victory over the Benjaminites in the third battle saying, “Go up, for tomorrow I will give them into your hand.” After God promised the Israelites that they would in fact win this third time, they did win. Therefore, God only promised the Israelites victory with assurance when he knew and ordained that they would actually win in the third battle. God didn’t promise the Israelites victory the first two times when they lost. That is just simply not in the text.
Hence, Judges 20 can not be used as a parallel to what happened to Muhammad and king Ahab since they were both clearly promised victory by lying spirits when they actually lost. It was only after Muhammad and the Muslims lost the battle of Uhud when we find Muhammad then making excuses for the loss which later came down in Surah 3:152. It is very clear then that Muhammad and king Ahab were both clearly told that they would win these battles by lying spirits when in fact they didn’t. They were deceived.